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Newsletter Stories

Monday, 01 October 2001
Large Industry and FSC certified wood from Small landowners

by Richard Donovan, chief of Forestry for the Rainforest Alliance

From Indonesia to the southeastern USA, the FSC system has been working to develop systems of certification for small and medium sized landowners. In the USA, recent data from science-driven private landowner surveys by the U.S. Forest Service indicate that private landowners are increasingly restricting timber harvesting on their land. More and more they are concerned about environment impacts and the value of wildlife and scenic or amenity values. Yet, in many parts of the USA (and elsewhere), large forest products companies are extremely dependent on the wood from small landowners.

In 1995, SmartWood pioneered the Resource Manager certification model for certified consulting foresters who recognized this dynamic. Now large forest products companies are pursuing FSC Resource Manager certification. Domtar Inc., a US$5 billion company which manages over 30 million acres of forestland and has paper and lumber mills throughout Canada and the USA, recently attained FSC/SmartWood Resource Manager certification for managing private forestlands near its Trenton, Ontario paper mill on the border with New York. Clearly, they are only one of a number of large forest products companies doing this (another Canadian giant, Tembec, Ltd., also has FSC Resource Manager certification in Ontario). From Alabama to Maine to California, large companies know they must solve the small landowner conundrum – balance their demand for the highest environmental and aesthetic standards with real economic needs – or the small landowner wood faucet will be turned off.